If you've been around marketing long enough, you remember the good old days when we debated the balance of List, Offer and Creative. The thinking was simple—one of these three would drive the campaign, and the other two would support. You’d try to find a balance of a great list/target of prospective customers, a great offer to drive the call to action, and great creative to get the message and the brand across. The essence of balancing these three things is important: Often the brand that emerges in business is simply the cumulative effect of years of campaigns. Find your balance and you find your brand.
Black Friday (the killer shopping day after Thanksgiving) is a B2C marketing example of "too much offer." Even though marketers try to put some spin on the creative, the offer completely overpowers any messaging or branding, and there’s absolutely no targeting involved. Black Friday, though now the price of entry in retail, is poor marketing. It does, however, drive a ton of business: Disloyal, undifferentiated, no-margin "traffic"—not really "customers" by most instincts. Some would say that Black Friday has no impact on a brand, others would say it has a negative impact, but no one would argue that Black Friday builds a good brand. Walmart—even with its low-price brand—always finds a way to end up worse afterwards between tramplings, shopping hostility and a universally overcommitted staff delivering bare minimum service.
If there’s a Black Friday in B2B marketing, the end of the year when businesses are trying to "make the number" is it. We have a version of this at Silverpop, but it’s very controlled with a targeted list, a targeted offer and sharp creative, and it works well. Recently, however, I've seen over-the-top offers in B2B. For example, a $1,000 gift card for a prospect referral showed up for a marketing tech company. It applied no targeting, no creative and didn't attempt to segment its market or build a brand. In fact, the offer was simply listed on its website. So while it may work at driving the desired short-term behavior, marketers (their customers) will likely find less and less value in aligning to its brand.
But ...we're marketers. We can do better than that. Are we commissioned simply to "procure prospects" or are we charged with building a presence that stands for more than gimmicks and short-term thinking? For my nine months at Silverpop, I've said that I love being a marketer in an industry competing with great marketers. We innovate and challenge the status quo every day.
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, pay careful attention to the List-Offer-Creative balance in your campaigns, because it’s nothing less than a brand that you’re building. We'd love to talk to you about how Silverpop helps to make your marketing something that people brag about. Contact us or send me an email.